Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Its #GivingTuesday!!

Have you started your Christmas shopping?  Did you capitalize on all the deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday?  I don't know about you - but my social media feeds were filled with deals and special offers. There's no doubt this is the biggest season of giving and receiving throughout the year, and if you're anything like me - I tend to enjoy the giving more than the receiving as an adult!

With that in mind, I thought I remind you that today (December 1) is #GivingTuesday. Have you heard of #GivingTuesday?  Here's an excerpt from their website:

"Now in its fourth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Observed on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year and a growing catalog of resources. The Big Idea Behind #GivingTuesday: #GivingTuesday harnesses the potential of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change in their communities; it provides a platform for them to encourage the donation of time, resources and talents to address local challenges. It also brings together the collective power of a unique blend of partners— nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and corporations, as well as families and individuals—to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness. As a global movement, #GivingTuesday unites countries around the world by sharing our capacity to care for and empower one another."

If you want to be a part of #GivingTuesday, we'd love for you to consider sending a PET cart to a waiting child in a third-world country. Just $300 will change the life a little one and be the best Christmas presents you've ever given!

To find out more about #GivingTuesday, go to givingtuesday.org -- for more information about PET, visit our website www.petwestmichigan.org

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday.

There's a new crispness in the air here in Michigan.  September was unseasonably warm and everyone soaked it in, but with October quickly approaching - fall seems to be finally arriving. A quick stop at any local retailer and you'll see Christmas trees amidst the fall items on sale. There's no stopping the calendar, the holiday season is coming!

You've heard of Black Friday - perhaps you've even set the alarm for 2am or pitched a tent at the nearest electronics store. You've prepped for Cyber Monday - bookmarking all your favorite sites and getting mobile updates days before. But have you heard of Giving Tuesday?


Take a quick look at www.givingtuesday.org and you'll see a movement growing for a new day to put on your calendar.  "WHAT IS #GIVINGTUESDAY? We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. Now, we have #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. On Tuesday, December 1, 2015, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity."

At PET West Michigan, we love the idea of Giving Tuesday!  If you've thought about wanting to do something great with your charitable dollars, think about providing a life altering hand-cranked mobility cart for a waiting child in a third-world country. Put December 1 on your calendar and join us in Giving Tuesday!

To learn more about PET West Michigan, visit our website at www.petwestmichigan.org

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Colorful Celebrations and Flags of All Kinds

I love the fourth of July - it is one of my most favorite holidays of the year. The weather is always beautiful, everyone has a patriotic display of some sort on their front porch, we have a ton of family over for the extended weekend, and it all culminates into this wonderful display of colorful bursts of light in the sky. There is so much for us to celebrate about the nation we live in.

And of course as you are surely aware of in the recent news, flags of rainbow color have been spotted everywhere, national monuments putting on different colorful displays and people everywhere are having a celebration of another sort.

No matter the celebration, one thing is true of all humanity - and that's the personal and public pursuit of freedom and happiness. By nature, everyone of us is born with the desire to be "free" and the hope of lifelong joy. It doesn't escape me that a quick search on words like "joy" or "freedom" in the Scriptures reveals hundreds of verses to mull over. During this season of national celebration, one in particular stands out to me: Galatians 5:13-14 "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"

Read that again -- we are called to be free.  So our fleshly nature and our soul can be in agreement -- freedom is where we find joy!  How shall we obtain this freedom and joy? Through Christ, serving each other in love, by loving our neighbor as ourselves.  Whether your neighbor means your literal neighbor next door, or the people of our country searching for their own freedom, or the helpless in third world countries - joy is found in loving them.

This fourth of July, join with us as we celebrate the wonderful freedom our soldiers have fought for and continue to fight for our country. And while you're at it, find a way to spread the joy and freedom you have by loving someone around you or far away.  Consider donating to the PET West Michigan as a practical act of love!

For more information, visit our website at www.petwestmichigan.org

Friday, May 29, 2015

High Net-Worth American's Value Giving Back As Part of a "Life Well Lived"

In the 2015 U.S. Trust Insights on Wealth and Worth Survey, I found it interesting what some of the highest net-worth Americans found important about giving back to society and charitable non-profits.  Of the 640 surveyed (with a net-worth of $3 million or more), the majority consider giving back to society an important component of a life well lived. Most participate in charitable
giving (78%) and volunteer time (66%) as a way to give back.  In addition to giving back, good health and family relationships were among the most important aspects they noted as a part of a "life well lived".

I don't suppose that any of this information is particularly surprising. I don't have $3 million in my bank account, but I too would agree that my family, my health and living a charitable life are among the most important things to me. But what I found amusing is putting this information in light of how little it actually takes to make an incredible charitable impact on another human's life. After a recent trip to Chicago where I passed multiple beleaguered homeless holding a cup and only needing a few dollars per day to feed themselves - it reminded me how much I have to give.  When a family in our church loses a job, bringing over some bags of clothes my son has outgrown and a few pans of lasagna helps them make it through the week.  And frankly, just $300 is enough to build and ship a life-altering PET Cart to a child who has only known a life on the ground.  Giving them not only the freedom to move around, but in so many cases the chance to go to school, the opportunity to make a living, and the promise to live a "normal" life.

Although its interesting to study the behaviors and thoughts of the country's most wealthy, the reality is we all have so much more to give than we even realize -- and most of the neediest really only need a little.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can provide a PET Cart to a waiting child, visit our website at www.petwestmichigan.org

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Earth Day, Earthquakes & Riots

I always look forward to Spring - everyone (including myself) is restless and wanting to open the doors and get outside. The sun makes more of an appearance, the breezes are warming up and the trees begin to bravely bud in the anticipation that summer will come. Earth day marks the middle of April - a celebration of the earth waking up and the amazing beauty of God's creation all around us.  But this April has been a difficult one.

With CNN on the background as I write this - the news here on earth is devastating. Today the death toll in Nepal from the massive earthquake earlier this week is already over 5,000 and is steadily climbing. Closer to home the city of Baltimore is reeling from civil unrest, violence and cries for justice as people lose their lives, inflict pain, and live in fear. The pain here on earth seems to overshadow the beauty of celebrating God's creation on Earth Day.  The Earth and its inhabitants are in pain.  I'm reminded of the passage in Romans chapter 8:  "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God."

"...liberated from its bondage to decay" - those words have deeper meaning in the face of the sadness we have watched unfold.  Our earth, our bodies, our societies are in bondage to the decay that was brought about when sin entered the world. But this verse is not without hope - we 'wait with eager expectation' for the freedom God promises to His children. 

Spring is an annual reminder of new life and sometimes - as this spring has proven - is also a reminder of decay. Yet even in the midst of devastation and pain, God is faithful and His promises are trustworthy. I hope that today you too can find hope in the promises of God's word - and use that knowledge to share it with the world around you facing seemingly insurmountable circumstances. At PET we serve the underpriveleged and the downtrodden everyday with this message of hope and the promise of a brighter future.

For more information about PET or how you can get involved - visit our website at www.petwestmichigan,org

Monday, March 23, 2015

50,000 PET Carts to Waiting Adults & Children Around the World

PET West Michigan has churned out over 2,000 PET carts since its beginning, and we are proud to be a part of over 50,000 carts making their way into the hands of waiting adults and children around the world! Please read the following press release from PET International: 

"PET International announces the production of the 50,000th PET (Personal Energy
Transportation) cart. A celebration will be held at noon on Thursday, April 16, at the PET
Mobility Project factory at 1908 Heriford, in Columbia.

This milestone was reached by the combined efforts of 22 PET Affiliates established in the
United States and another in Zambia. PET carts, hand cranked 3-wheel vehicles, allow the driver
to go where ordinary wheelchairs won’t go.

World Health Organization cites over 21 Million people are leg disabled due to diseases,
casualties, and birth defects. PET Mobility Project started in 1994 when retired Methodist
minister Mel West and two friends, a missionary in Africa (Larry Hill) saw the need, and an
engineer (Earl Miner) designed a cart to meet that need. West began production of the first carts
in his garage in Columbia Missouri. From that, the volunteer organization has grown to 23 shops
across the world.

In 2004 PET International came into being as the umbrella organization to distribute PET carts,
coordinate PET affiliate production sites, and communicate the need for PET carts. PI Director
of Operations Von Driggs, stationed in Lindale Texas, coordinates the distribution of the carts in
over 100 developing nations. Over 50 distribution partners assist with shipping containers of
PET carts and identify those who will receive the carts in-country. Driggs said “There is no cost
to the recipient – we reflect the love of God by giving them the gift of mobility.”

Each PET affiliate shop started with an inspired individual or group of volunteers and a desire to
help others. They organized their facility, recruited volunteers, raised funds for operations and
supplies, and received training on how to build a PET cart. A standard design, continually being
improved and coordinated by PET International, provides the design for the cart.

The 50,000 milestone represents the donations of thousands of PET Mobility Project supporters
across the world. Each affiliate raises funds for their shop through fundraising events and
donations from hundreds of supporters. Over the years, organizations such as United Methodist
Men, Lion’s Club, Rotary, and Kiwanis have adopted the PET mobility cause and provided
money as well as manpower to build PET carts.

The 50,000 PET carts made also represent thousands of volunteers working at the 23 PET
Affiliates, an estimated 600,000 hours of time volunteered, and over $12.5 million to build them."

If you would like more information on how you can get involved with PET West Michigan, please be sure to visit our website at www.petwestmichigan.org

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

60 PET Carts Shipped to Orphan Grain Train!

What is Orphan Grain Train you ask?  Well we're excited to tell you! Orphan Grain Train is a Christian volunteer network that ships donated food, clothing, medical and other needed items to people in 64 different countries including the USA. In 1992, Rev. Ray S. Wilke, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Norfolk, Neb., volunteered with a group of Lutherans who traveled to Latvia and Russia to help with a church mission. There they met people with "no hope" in desperate need of spiritual, emotional, and humanitarian aid after the breakup of the former Soviet Union.Wilke envisioned a train that would travel through America's midwest, picking up cars of donated grain along the way, until it reached a port from which the grain would be shipped to feed starving orphans in Eastern Europe. Upon his return to the United States, Wilke contacted Clayton Andrews, president of Andrews Van Lines, a worldwide transportation company, and told his story. Together, they founded Orphan Grain Train.*

PET International and Orphan Grain Train have partnered together for many years to bring humanitarian aid to children around the world. When PET West Michigan was asked to provide 60 PET carts to be shipped through the OGT program, we couldn't have been more pleased to oblige. 

To learn more about the Orphan Grain Train, visit their website at: http://www.ogt.org/

To find out how to get involved with PET West Michigan and donate a PET cart to a waiting child, visit our website at www.petwestmichigan.org

*Information from the OGT website